The Other Guys
The Other Guys
It’s interesting that my favourite Will Ferrell film is Stranger than Fiction, doubtless one of his more serious (well, certainly more deadpan) roles – and Mark Wahlberg, who I adore in anything, proved his dramatic chops in fare as varied as Boogie Nights and The Departed. (Albeit with tongue wryly in cheek in both of those films.)
Here, the comedy genius and the stereotyped cop do a great job of playing “the other guys” – loser cops whose awkward partnering provides plenty of conflict as they seek to replace legendary police Danson and Highsmith (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson, clearly having the time of their lives, and setting the tone of the film with an outstanding opening.)
Self-propelled on various missions, often without the blessing of their new-age, touchy-feely boss (a comforting return from Michael Keaton – man, since Christian Bale took over I can’t believe this guy was the first modern Batman!…) – police department accountant Gamble (Ferrell) and shamed officer Hoitz (Wahlberg), notorious for once shooting the city’s top baseball player, become embroiled in a kidnapping/corruption plot that could prove their making – if only they don’t mess it up.
Inititially, I feared that this latest Will Ferrell vehicle from the maker of Stepbrothers, Anchorman…, and Talledega Nights had all the markings of a film whose trailer feeds you all the funnies and leaves you feeling cheated. But, no! The Other Guys proves a welcome exception, a movie that can put its villain’s lottery money where its protagonist’s big mouth is. It is replete with genuine belly laugh moments and plenty of opportunities for a quick wry smile as you listen carefully for the next subtle joke. There are “ridiculous” set-pieces, and some paper-thin running gags, but the tone is infectious. Notably, there are terrific supporting performances from Eva Mendes, personifying every guy’s dream wife, and Steve Coogan with his usual Englishness a perfect foil to the bombastic American nonsense.
Which isn’t to say it’s perfect. There are patches where the audience comes up for air and has to go on a ridealong with the characters as they bounce from one plot point to the next. However, afterward I racked my brain to recall the last comedy I would consider to be consistently hilarious all the way through. (The Naked Gun? This is Spinal Tap? right now I can’t think of any that are faultless.) To that end, The Other Guys is definitely worth a trip to the cinema rather than a sneak down illegal download lane. Detective Gamble would no doubt be pleased.